Carlo Col Shelter (1908.5) to Bald Pate Lean-To (1924.9)
I was looking forward to hiking Mahoosuc Notch on the Appalachian Trail today. The last couple of miles of hiking was in the pouring rain. My body was exhausted from the effort. Despite only covering just over 16 miles I would have to rate today as the most physically demanding day of the hike so far. Mahoosuc Notch and the subsequent climb up Mahoosuc Arm was some of the hardest on trail hiking I’ve done.
I was the first hiker on trail in the morning. Leaving the 10 or so other hikers to their morning slumber and straight away I was hiking through the wind and clouds. The high alpine mountains of Maine were not going to let me past easily.
Mahoosuc Notch is commonly referred to as the toughest mile of hiking on the whole Appalachian Trail. The trail, if that’s the correct word for it, follows a boulder field between two mountains. A combination of rock scrambling and squeezing through boulders is required to complete the Mahoosuc Notch mile. This is not for everyone. It’s tough going. It took me nearly two hours to get through. I did take time for photos and videos but still a tough section. The photos below are the Appalachian Trail, not some side trail or me exploring nearby caves or rock climbs.
When the fun and games of Mahoosuc Notch was finished there was no rest. Now came Mahoosuc Arm, probably the steepest climb on the whole Appalachian Trail, 1500 feet of climbing over 1 mile, a similar grade to a set of stairs. The only difference is, there’s no stairs just steep slippery rocks and tree roots.
In comparison, the rest of the afternoon was a walk in the woods but that’s not exactly true. While climbing up Old Spek Mountain I stopped on numerous occasions to take in the view. Mountains as far as I could see. I was alone for the whole day of hiking and many moments on this climb I just stopped to sit and enjoy the view. These views and the struggle of Mahoosuc Notch and Mahoosuc Arm was why I was here. I had a moment which is hard to describe but let’s say I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to hike a trail like this, not everybody is so fortunate.
Light rain fell in the late afternoon with ominous dark clouds signaling worse to come. I was several miles from the nearest campsite. The rain hit heavier the closer I got to camp until it was pouring down as I pitched the tent. No photos nor words could come close to summing up my experience today. May I have many more experiences like this in the future. Best day hiking in the Appalachian Trail so far.
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